Denis O Connor – Artist Statement
The exhibition ‘In our time’ sets out to explore a variety of different subjects creating a series of narratives that I have visualised through making sculpture. Through the process of making the work I have set out several discussions with myself which explore references around loss, sadness and longing. These references are in part autobiographical reflecting on elements of my own history to growing up in Ireland in the 1960’s. The work raises questions ref my own history and my own view on the present with reference to ‘In our time’ a world that has experience significant change over the last two years, for better or worse.
The majority of the work in the exhibition brings together a series of new sculptures made over the last two years; these wall-based pieces are made specifically for the WAS Gallery space.
Process and Making are central to my sculpture practice, working in an intuitive, physically dynamic way in trying to develop new ways of defining my language of sculpture. I work with the medium of steel towards creating physical forms which begin to transcend a sense of how I can communicate different narratives.
I work most productively in my workshop following my own rules by imposing my critical and formal language on different types of steel; responding to the engineering properties of the material, I question the material, a sort of physical conversation with its properties of line, volume, weight, fluidity, surface, hardness and softness. I try to create sculpture which concerns itself with juxtapositions, tensions, elevations, constructs, opposites, balance, imbalance; all formal ingredients which inform how and what I create and which defines what I am trying to communicate, a dialogue between idea and form.
The Boulder form is a central element within the sculptures, it has come from my explorations [by kayak] of the ‘edge’ of the West Cork coastline, which is both permanent and temporary, solid and fragmented.
This is further enhanced by the experience of living in two places Wirksworth in the Peak District in Derbyshire [ a lead mining and limestone quarrying area] to Barna in West Cork. I try to use the Boulder form to encapsulate / explore different subjects, in doing this I bring in other forms such as house, chair, ladder, tools, artifacts.
I would hope that the series of individual works I have made begin to speak to the viewer through the articulation of form and imagery, engaging the audience in a formal visual language which transcends itself into sculpture which in turn I trust are capable of standing up for themselves; that they can exist as self contained entities, constructed within the traditions of Sculpture Making. The production of the work is a very real activity; it provides me with a connection with the world around me through the ideas I work with. I would hope the work through its strength of form combined with my ability to make, sets up a challenge for the viewer as an observer to explore different narratives I have chosen to communicate.